Cantuccini are a well-known Italian biscotti that are often served with coffee. These hard and crunchy biscuits traditionally contain almonds, but can also be made with additional nuts such as pistachios for a tasty alternative.
Twice-baked and known for their crunch, cantuccini are ideal biscuits for dunking. I love them for breakfast with a good coffee – I feel like only the Italians can get away with biscuits (or even cake) for breakfast! But they’re also traditionally served with coffee or wine after a meal too.
When I made cantuccini for the first time, I wasn’t sure if they’d turn out okay, but I was pleasantly surprised. They were fun and easy to make, turned out super crunchy and delicious, and above all, they passed the family test. Everyone wants me to make them again!
So, if you want to try your hand at making these classic Italian biscotti, read on…
- 90g whole almonds (skin removed)
- 90g whole pistachio nuts (shelled)
- 250g strong white flour
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR 1 sachet of vanilla sugar
- Zest of 1 orange
- Icing sugar for dusting
1.Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and start by lining a couple of trays with baking paper. You’ll need plenty of space to spread your biscuits out.
2. If your almonds have skins on them, you’ll first need to soak them in boiled water for 2-3 minutes, then cold water for 2-3 minutes. After that, the skins should slide off. But it’s much easier to buy skinned almonds instead – I learned the hard way! Then pop your skinned almonds into a dry frying pan and toast them over a medium heat, moving around regularly until they reach an even golden brown.
3. Next, you’ll need to shell your pistachios and remove the skins. You might find them ready-shelled in the shop, but if not, they’re easy to break open. Then you’ll need to simply soak them in boiled water for 2 minutes, drain and peel off the skin. Dry the pistachio nuts gently with kitchen roll.
4. Once your nuts are prepared, add them to a large mixing bowl. Now you can start on your biscuit dough by sifting your flour, sugar and baking powder into the mixing bowl and stirring to mix the dry ingredients.
5. Next, add your beaten eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest and mix until combined into a dough. You might need to get stuck in and get your hands dirty, but there’s no need to knead the dough (that could’ve been a great pun!)
6. Now your biscuit dough is formed, dust your work surface with icing sugar, divide your dough into three equal pieces and roll each piece into a sausage shape in the icing sugar.
7. Place the rolls onto your baking sheets and flatten them slightly. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes or until they’re baked and firm to the touch.
8. Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the rolls onto a chopping board. Use a sharp knife to cut the rolls diagonally into 1cm strips. Be extra careful with this step as the biscuits will be very hot! You can protect your hands with a clean tea towel when transferring and cutting the biscuits.
9. Once cut into strips, lay the biscuits back onto your lined baking sheets in a single layer and return to the oven for 3-5 minutes for their second bake. This will make them extra hard and crunchy, which is what traditional cantuccini are famous for.
10. When you’re happy with how golden and crunchy your cantuccini are, remove them from the oven and leave your biscuits to cool on a wire rack before serving.
Enjoy your traditional cantuccini with coffee for breakfast, wine after dinner, ice cream for dessert, or as a tasty snack or homemade gift. Buon appetito! xx